The Training of Jesus’s Disciples—Part II: The Seventy

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from The Mentoring Church: How Pastors and Congregations Cultivate Leaders
by Phil A. Newton


Although the sending of the Twelve and the Seventy bear resemblance, a few distinctions layer our understanding of how Jesus trained and prepared early disciples for mission. John Nolland rightly suggests that the future ministry of the church may be prefigured in the Seventy[1]—which gives some foreshadowing of future church planting and mission work. The Seventy may include the Twelve or may be in addition to the Twelve, the latter appearing more likely due to the use of heterous for “seventy others.”[2] Twelve aspects to Jesus’s commissioning and training are noted.

First, Jesus sends the Seventy out in pairs as he had done the Twelve (Luke 10:1; Mark 6:7).[3] Second, Jesus prepared and apparently assigned the thirty-five teams to particular locations where he planned to go (Luke 10:1).[4] Third, the disciples were to sense the urgency of their task by praying for the Lord of the harvest to send out more laborers into his harvest—an exhortation that should seem just as urgent in our own era (Luke 10:2). Fourth, Jesus does not send them out under pretense; they will be lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3). One practice that our trainees have found useful is the blunt honesty about the varied issues of ministry. Some ministry situations feel like war zones, others like circuses. Facing reality when entering ministry might keep a young pastor or missionary from succumbing to early discouragement.

Fifth, like the Twelve, the Seventy were to learn dependence upon the Father by not taking extra supplies (Luke 10:4). Sixth, the urgency and focus of the mission was evident in not greeting anyone on the way (Luke 10:4). Seventh, the Seventy were to look for a man of peace for hospitality (Luke 10:5–7), which probably means someone willing to listen and receive the message they spoke.[5] Eighth, they were to learn contentment in the hospitality that the Lord provided (Luke 10:7–8)—discovering, as well, the significance of table fellowship in ministry.[6] Ninth, the disciples were to serve the needy and proclaim the nearness of the kingdom of God (Luke 10:9). Tenth, judgment must also be appropriately leveled against those that reject the kingdom message (Luke 10:10–12). Eleventh, the Seventy disciples were to learn their identity with Jesus as his representatives (Luke 10:16).[7] Finally, the Seventy—and future missionaries following in their steps—were to learn to find their joy in the grace of God shown to them rather than in a particular measure of success (Luke 10:17–20).[8]

While we’re only taking a brief look at Jesus’s training of the Twelve and the Seventy as noted by Luke, enough evidence remains to offer an appropriate paradigm for contemporary church leaders as they seek to mentor for ministry. The balance of this chapter considers how Jesus’s mentoring model should shape our practice.



[1] John Nolland, Luke 9:21–18:34, WBC 35B; Ralph Martin, NT ed. (Nashville: Nelson, 1993), 550.

[2] Ibid. Nolland suggests that Luke may understand the Twelve “to be involved alongside the Seventy(-two) as a continuation of the role they already have.”

[3] Robert H. Stein, Luke, NAC; E. Ray Clendenen, gen. ed. (Nashville: Broadman, 1992), 304. This includes both practical reason—“mutual support”—and theological reason—two wit- nesses were necessary in affirming veracity of testimony (Deut. 19:15; Num. 35:30). See Schnabel, Early Christian Mission, 1:290.

[4] Schnabel, Early Christian Mission, 1:321–322, works out a potential strategy of Jesus following the Seventy with six weeks of one-day/night visits in each village. But he acknowledges it to be more plausible that the disciples represent him, taking his place; see Luke 10:16.

[5] I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke, NIGTC (Carlisle: Paternoster; Grand Rapids: Eerd mans, 1978), 419–420, states that “man of peace” is a frequent idiom in Classical and Hellenistic Greek and in the Semitic language, meaning not one who is already a disciple “but to offering salvation to those who are willing to receive it.” In other words, they were to look for those who were open to hearing and receiving their message. This best suits the context.

[6] Marshall, Luke, 421. Table fellowship may have been a significant point of gospel communication. Derek Tidball, Ministry by the Book: New Testament Patterns for Pastoral Leadership (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008), 61, offers a valid assertion: “So much of Jesus’s most important teaching takes place over the meal table ([Luke] 5:27–32; 7:36–50; 10:38–42; 14:1–24; 19:1–9; 22:7–38; 24:13–35).”

[7] Stein, Luke, 307, rightly expresses this as “the corporate solidarity of the messenger and the Lord,” an important truth for future generations of missionaries and church planters to keep in mind.

[8] Bruce, Training, 107, calls this “a timely caution against elation and vanity.”

This post is an adaption from from The Mentoring Church: How Pastors and Congregations Cultivate Leaders
by Phil A. Newton. If you are interested in adopting this book for a college or seminary course, please request a faculty examination copy. We will also consider requests for your blog or media outlets. Subscribe to our newsletter and receive a free digital copy by clicking here!

The critical missing element in Christian mentoring today: the congregation

Young, emerging leaders of the church, many of whom have gone through leadership training and traditional mentorship programs, still too often find themselves unprepared for the realities of ministry. Many leave the ministry altogether, overwhelmed.

Phil Newton reveals a critical gap: single-source mentorship is incomplete. Mentoring must involve the congregation, not just senior pastors, in order to bring forth mature, resilient leaders prepared for all that ministry entails.

The solid, practical solutions in The Mentoring Church offer churches of any size both the vision for mentoring future leaders and a workable template to follow. With insightful consideration of theological, historical, and contemporary training models for pastor/church partnerships, Newton is a reliable guide to developing a church culture that equips fully prepared leaders.

“Bringing up future leaders isn’t just the job of the pastor but of the whole congregation. This is an urgently needed book in churches today.” —R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


About Author

Phil A. Newton (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; DMin, Fuller Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at South Woods Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. His previous books include The Way of Faith and Elders in Congregational Life.

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